Memories are made of this
As a child, one is often encouraged to partake in an extracurricular activity of some kind or other. Whatever promptings came my way when I was young-er, physical recreation was never high up on the list.
My teenage gym classes were a drag for the most part due to a lack of inclination towards team sports. In fact, as far as possible, I would try to evade anything that would involve joining forces with my classmates. As often as I could, provided I had the teacher’s say-so and another free spirit to tag along with me, I would hit the towpath of the nearby Sambre river, just a few feet away from the school, and run for a little while.
‘What is your favourite colour?’
I wasn’t much of a runner but enjoyed the more or less alone time. This would also free me from the burden of failing my peers by refusing to play ball!
Despite appearances and an unflattering allusion to my social skills, I was not a complete couch potato; my energy simply needed to be channelled towards specific areas. I really just had to ask myself what I enjoyed doing in terms of ‘physical entertainment’.
It so happens that I derived a lot of pleasure from being active and all it took was working out my preferences.
A little bit of this, a little bit of that
Throughout the years, as well as jogging and the odd yoga home session, I went through a karate training phase and also took Celtic dance lessons. And although I have forsaken the former (never say never – after all, I still hold Bruce Lee in high regard 😉 ), the idea of resuming jigs and reels, and prancing around to the musical legacy of my ancestors is very tempting. Finding a way to realise that aspiration is a somewhat dormant work in progress.
Off the deep end
Swimming was a nightmare for me because I had never actually really learned the basics and the only breaststroke I could produce looked, from a short (!) distance, like a frog in survival mode.
I dare say that the underlying cause for my lack of motivation, skill and determination to learn was plain fear in its many disguises. Under different circumstances, I may have tackled things differently but instead chose the line of least resistance and hid behind all manner of excuses.
Come to think of it, it’s funny how I would conveniently be indisposed whenever swimming was announced for physical education class 😉
Like a fish… almost
The years have passed, many of which where less energetic than I care to recall, and with many winters under the belt, I find myself pondering life’s ways and dabbling in activities I would have found terrifying no more than one year ago.
Sometimes I wish I’d started off with a better, stronger basis, something I could have leaned on when I recently took up swimming lessons designed to improve my so far non-existent swimming skills.
When the course started over 9 months ago and I ended up in a pool of people who seemed to know what they were doing, my freestyle technique resembled that of a dog digging in the water and gasping for air.
I had no idea what I was doing and, to make things even more stressful, I had trouble putting – let alone keeping – my head under water.
It took a few weeks of spluttering and wheezing, and of leftover water oozing out of my respiratory tract – even well after the swimming class – before I came to see that I was in fact making progress.
In view of these discomforts, the thought of having to give up briefly crossed my mind yet thankfully led to no such thing.
I want to ride my bicycle, not fall off it
No more than a year ago, my only experience on a bike amounted to a teenager perched on top of her father’s overlarge bicycle and riding in very cautious loops in the immediate neighbourhood.
Getting back on a two-wheeler a couple of decades later was little short of petrifying – and still is!
I should have known that shortcuts and rushing ahead would not pay off. So after a couple of bumps in the road, crowned with the occasional tumble (I’m covered with scratches and bruises as I write), I decided it was wiser to proceed slowly and patiently.
Now and then I find myself carefully tearing down a smooth road or not-so-smooth country track but apprehension is always there, as I clutch the handlebars, holding on for dear life.
The road to ‘perfection’ is paved with sweat…
What would have come more naturally from being processed as a child now has to be learned almost from scratch. Such a task isn’t necessarily easy. As an adult, what with all the accumulated bullshit and preconceived notions, perhaps we tend to overthink things a little. And realising that we are not, in fact, going to live forever probably doesn’t help either.
The components of a Triathlon are nowhere close to be thrown in together as far as I am concerned, but the mere thought of it no longer seems as far-fetched as it would have just a while ago.
… grit and grime
I doubt I will be able to call myself a strong swimmer one day, or a mountain bike champion (unless we are talking about my outstanding skills in falling for no apparent reason 😉 ) but at least I know that there is plenty of room for more.
I marvel at the opportunities that would have once seemed highly unlikely. And even though the fear of breaking my neck or going under is only a breath away, it doesn’t prevent me from crossing new thresholds.
Reaching a destination that you thought you’d never make is but the icing on the cake.